Some couples dream of owning their bridal dress and morning suit, but if your budget is limited — or you’re likely to end up with an expensive, unworn garment gathering dust in your attic — you could consider hiring your attire.
We spoke to three fashion hire experts to find out the pros and cons of borrowing your wedding wear.
Marc Moore, Jack Bunneys, men’s formal hire specialists
“Hiring is the most popular choice for grooms-to-be in the UK. I think historic morning wear for the British was prohibitively expensive, therefore people preferred to hire and that tradition has stayed with us.
“There are always pros and cons: hiring is undoubtedly more affordable and there is a large selection of choice, all specifically designed for weddings. The hire wear supplier will have the responsibility of sizing and eventually fitting you with your hire wear, and after the wedding there is nothing to clean or store.
“On the other hand, your item of clothing has been worn before and no permanent alterations can be made, only simple, non-permanent changes, such as shortening trousers or dresses and shortening sleeves. Although you have a large choice, you have to select from what is available, and after the wedding you have nothing to keep.
“But the main advantage is the cost; you can wear a product with a full retail value of hundreds or thousands at a fraction of the cost.
“As well as traditional styles, many independent hire shops offer a wide and varied selection of morning, lounge, evening and ceremony suits. And cufflinks are so easily forgotten on the day itself; if you were to hire them, there would be no need for that last minute dash, hunting down a lost cufflink!”
Anna Bance, Girl Meets Dress, leading luxury dress hire service for women
“Rental is a way for customers to extract all the value with none of the headaches: women can wear more relevant, trend-led and time sensitive fashions, while still investing in classic pieces that stand the test of time. Celebrities have always borrowed dresses for special events, and now that everyone is a mini-celebrity in their own world, all women can access this luxury.
“There are lots of benefits for brides to consider. At Girl Meets Dress we have over 4,000 dresses from 150 brands. We take care of the dry cleaning and returns are free and simple, using the same box and a pre-paid label. We rent dresses at up to 95% off the retail value, which is a very large saving.
“We have a dedicated wedding boutique section on the website. This summer we launched hats for hire, and we already stock clutch bags. We’ve also started selling additional items such as shapewear, tights and beauty products so brides can buy all the extras they need for their important day from the same place.
“All brides want to ensure they find their wedding dress well in advance of the big day, so we’ve also launched an “advance try on” service. You book a few dresses and receive them now to try on and choose, months ahead of the wedding. Once you know which one you want to wear, you send all the dresses back and we refund the ones you don’t want to wear and keep your wedding dress safe and sound until redelivery, just before the wedding.”
Steve Bishop, Hugh Harris, menswear and formal suit hire service
“Hiring formal wear for the bridal party is a logical decision; when you’re buying matching attire for a large group of people you’ll spend a large sum of money. Hiring the clothes is a cheaper alternative and, as you’ll probably only wear it once, makes more sense.
“A wedding party needs a uniform look — you can achieve this by hiring all the suits from the same company. If none of the bridal party’s outfits match it will detract attention from the bride and groom, no matter how stunning they look. We often hire out multiple suits for the groomsmen in a matching fabric, but a different style to suit each individual.
“Some hire companies offer insurance as an optional extra, but we impose our own insurance as a condition of hire. That way we can maintain a good relationship with the customer if anything gets damaged on the day.
“And shoes are often overlooked by a bridal party. Mismatched styles look terrible, so hiring matching shoes is a really smart idea, even if you’re not hiring suits.”
• Some hire businesses are better than others: make a few appointments at different shops and choose one that suits you best.
• If your grooms party live all over the country, choose a brand that will cater for all of you so that you don’t have to necessarily get together for fittings.
• Try-on the clothes you’re hiring prior to paying a deposit.
• If you can’t make it to the fitting, find a local tailor who can take your measurements. Send them to the supplier with an up-to-date picture (via email) and then you can agree on the best size.
• Most hire shops allow two working days for the return of hire suits or dresses.
• The cleaning of the suit or dress is usually included in the price — but always read the terms and conditions.
• If you fall in love, you should be able to purchase the suit/dress – experts recommend buying a new one in the same style, so you can have any permanent alterations made.